Rangers ended a tumultuous weekend on a positive note with a 2-1 win over Morton in their William Hill Scottish Cup fifth-round clash at Ibrox.
The Govan club was rocked by news of manager Mark Warburton’s resignation late on Friday night with confusion following when the club statement announcing his departure was reportedly denied by the Englishman.
Under-20s boss Graeme Murty was placed in temporary charge for the visit of the Championship side but the Rangers supporters were further stunned when Michael Tidser fired the Greenock men ahead in the seventh minute with a fine volley.
However, Kenny Miller levelled six minutes later and fellow striker Martyn Waghorn scored from close range just after the hour mark and in the end last season’s beaten finalists emerged triumphant if, again, unconvincingly.
The search for a new manager, either in a caretaker capacity until the end of the season or on a permanent basis, is under way.
However, regardless of who it will be – and former boss Alex McLeish is the front runner – he will need to make improvements if the Light Blues are to get back to the Hampden final again this season
Murty may have been taking the side for the first and only time and he made two changes to the side with midfielder Andy Halliday and Waghorn coming in for Jon Toral and Joe Garner.
Aberdeen loan striker Lawrence Shankland was cup-tied for the visitors but Celtic loan players Jamie Lindsay and Aidan Nesbitt were in the line-up.
The latter was involved in Morton’s early goal when he took advantage of hesitancy in the Rangers rearguard to flick the ball on to Tidser and he sent a perfectly-executed volley from the edge of the box low past diving goalkeeper Wes Foderingham.
The home support sat stunned and were shown signs of exasperation until Miller struck.
Rangers attacker Barrie McKay slipped past defender Lee Kilday in the Morton penalty area and when his powerful drive was pushed out by keeper Derek Gaston the 37-year-old striker returned the ball from the edge of the box past a couple of defenders and into the net with a help of a deflection.
Moments later, Gaston got his fingertips to midfielder Emerson Hyndman’s curling shot from 20 yards which clipped the bar on the way over, the keeper then gathering the corner.
However, there was no flat-out assault on the Morton goal. Indeed, the home side’s build-up play was ponderous
McKay did get behind the visiting defence in the 38th minute but his pass across the goal found no takers in Light Blue.
A penalty appeal when Miller was challenged by Lee Kilday inside the box was ignored by referee Andrew Dallas.
A loose header by Rangers stopper Philippe Senderos seven minutes into the second half allowed Tidser to play in Nesbitt, but with only Foderingham to beat his right-footed shot cleared the bar.
Morton were soon to rue that missed opportunity
Waghorn had a drive slip past the far post after escaping his marker but minutes later, after Gaston pushed out an angled shot by Hyndman, who had been played in by Jason Holt, the former Wigan Athletic striker knocked in from a couple of yards out.
As the game stretched Rangers defenders James Tavernier and Senderos had efforts before Gaston made a good save from a Waghorn drive.
In the 77th minute, at the other end, Lindsay’s shot from 25 yards narrowly missed the target.
In added time Gaston was required to make another save from Waghorn before Morton substitute Luke Donnelly, on for Kilday, missed a good chance to equalise when he lifted his shot over the bar with Foderingham and the Rangers defence in disarray.